Keeping Warm When You’re Chronically Cold

For the longest time, I’ve hated winter. I struggled with the cold weather because I’d find myself so completely frigid, it hurt. Not only was the cold itself uncomfortable, but my fingers and toes would go numb, I’d get knots in my neck and shoulders from being hunched over, and by the end of the day, I’d be totally wiped out from spending all my energy on shivering.

Finally , I decided it was time to change something. I couldn’t stand being cold anymore, but I wasn’t about to uproot my life and move South. Here’s what I did:

  1. Get my blood work done: There are a number of biochemical reasons a person might feel cold all the time, a few of them being anemia, vitamin deficiencies, hypothyroidism, or diabetes. As it turned out, my thyroid levels were a little off, so I worked on that by upping my sleep, iodine, and omega-3’s. I didn’t notice a difference in my level of chilliness, but I did notice a boost in mood and energy.
  2. Dressing in layers: I’m on the thinner side, so I tried adding some extra insulation. I typically double up on socks, wear an undershirt (sometimes two,) and on really cold days, I wear leggings under my pants. This definitely helps keep me warmer throughout the day, but it didn’t prevent the episodes of severe chills that send me into near convulsions. This also might sound silly, but I started wearing hats. I realize hats were invented for the purpose of warmth, but I usually avoided them because I didn’t want hat hair. However, I’m now tending towards function over fashion.
  3. Eating warm foods: I noticed that I get really chilly after meals (especially lunch) in the winter. While this is normal to a certain degree, because blood gets channeled toward the digestive system, I found myself staying cold and clammy for up to two hours after meals. The principles of Chinese Medicine warn against eating cold foods in the winter, instead encouraging warmer ones to balance out the internal systems of the body with the external exposures. I found a huge benefit from changing my winter eating habits, and now I tend more towards hot soups and herbal tea instead of salads, sandwiches, or cold water. My postprandial shivers have subsided significantly.
  4. Exercise: I’ll be honest, when I’m cold and tired, the last thing I want to do is get up and get going. But in general, I find myself with a happily humming metabolism if I build an exercise session into my day. Whether its yoga, walking on a treadmill, or taking a run, the warming effect lasts much longer than the sweat.
  5. Acupuncture: This has been, by far, the number one most effective method I tried for boosting my body temperature. If you’re unfamiliar with acupuncture, I encourage you to check out this overview post to learn more. Otherwise, I really suggest you find a licensed acupuncturist near you! I have seen incredible benefit in my friends, family, patients, and myself with acupuncture for a wide range of symptoms, which is why I am so passionate about spreading the word! It offers a safe and effective solution when there are no other options, and can provide an alternative to more expensive or invasive procedures. I will admit, I was even surprised at how well it worked for my chronic coldness — it’s something I’d been struggling with for years, and acupuncture is the only thing that has been able to stop my episodes of extreme cold.

As with anything anecdotes I share or recommendations I make on my blog, it’s important that you discuss anything you plan to try with your healthcare provider. Especially if you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s important to rule out any of the more significant health problems that may be underlying your experience. For me, my thyroid hormone levels were off, and it was important to nip that in the bud before it progressed. Talking to your doctor is always the first place to start!

In health,

Alexandra


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